Barclays Bank UKRF - Trustees won't provide commutation or early retirement factors

As the title states, the administrators of the Barclays Bank UK Retirement Fund, Willis Towers Watson, are refusing to provide commutation factors or early retirement factors because "they are subject to change and as such expectations could be raised". They claim that they have never provided this information, which is odd because they gave us the commutation factor as at NRD for another client a few months ago.

This particular client is absolutely, definitely, 100% taking benefits before NRD, so we require these factors to provide an accurate TVAS.

Does anyone have any experience with this scheme? Any tips on how to get blood from a stone? Does anyone have workarounds when trustees won't provide certain information on DB schemes?


  • JonaJona Member
    Shout loud and often enough until they give you what you need to be able to provide best advice for your client.

    WTW are a pain!!!  Worse than Aon.

  • I suspect that the reason you are getting this response is that you are talking to 'the front desk' who do not have this information (and usually don't understand the request in te first place.

    Put the request in writing; if still get told No refer to Pension Ombudsman.
  • Every person that I have spoken to has "referred it to the admin team", and I have since received an email from the admin team confirming that they won't provide the figures.

    The factors were included in writing in our initial request, but as usual the trustees ignored the details of the first request and just sent their standard response.

    I have now escalated it to a complaint, and if they insist that they can't provide the figures, then it will be taken to the Ombudsman.
  • richallumrichallum Administrator
    It's the administrator being objectionable not the trustees.  In my experience, go to the trustees with the 'threat' of ombudsman, in a polite kinda way, and you'll get a better response.  It'll take some time but always worked for me.

    Paraplanner. F1, Apple, Nutella, ice cream. No trite motivational quotes. Turning a bit northern. Republican.

  • We've been trying for over six months to get these as we have a large Barclays office nearby and have a number of clients in the scheme. The trustees have told the Willis Towers Watson admin team not to release them because they can change and they only apply to people who are eligible to take benefits. I think that is probably fair, even if for us it is annoying.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with using assumptions for early retirement factors and commutation factors. We initially used an assumption of 15:1 for NRD, increasing by 0.5 for each year early, with an early retirement factor of 4% simple pa having been revalued to ERD.

    We've since had clients in this scheme who are over 55 and we've had them obtain real-time early retirement figures, which we're then able to challenge, because they applied to a real scenario. As a result we've made documented updates to our assumptions, but they are still mostly assumptions.

    The most important aspect of this is to ask the scheme, twice at least, document the answer and make reasonable assumptions with reasons for them. If you have to run two TVAS reports, with higher and lower range commutation factors that's also an option. You can then show this to the client and demonstrate that you are making them aware of the potential risks of assumptions in the advice.
    Benjamin Fabi FPFS
    Chartered Financial Planner 
  • They are particularly bad at providing that information but I've done as per Ben's suggestion above - two TVAS showing a big swing in the commutation/ER factors. 
  • Thanks for the responses everyone.

    @richallum - The administrators have said in their email that it is the trustees who won't release the info, as stated by Ben. Hopefully they'll pay attention since I mentioned the Ombudsman in my complaint email.

    @benjaminfabi and @Suse1969 ;- I didn't think we were able to make assumptions in this regard. We transacted a number of transfers from this scheme just before Christmas and were definitely told that the commutation factor at NRD at that time was 19.6. I can't recall exactly, but it could have been due to a particular client being at NRD. However we know that some changes have been made within the scheme, so we are apprehensive about reusing the figure. And that still doesn't solve the issue of projecting to the client's selected retirement age.

    I'll await the response to the complaint and discuss with my colleagues to decide how we should approach this.
  • That's reassuring because my current assumption at nrd, based on the known factor at 57, is 19.4  :)

    The simple reality is that we must make assumptions. The key is to document what and why. System limitations in the TVAS software have a major impact on the future projected values of some schemes, Barclays included, so we really need to educate clients that nearly everything is a best guess once we go forward from today. 

    Did you ask for what you needed? 
    Did you then need to use an assumption? 
    Was it reasonable in the circumstances, demonstrated by an explanation on the file?
    Was the client aware of the assumption, the reason for and the risks and implications of using it? 

    If you have this evidence trail on file then you have done your best for the client and as far as I am concerned that's the most important thing. 
    Benjamin Fabi FPFS
    Chartered Financial Planner 
  • richallumrichallum Administrator
    The info you guys share on here never ceases to impress me.  This is a great thread.

    Paraplanner. F1, Apple, Nutella, ice cream. No trite motivational quotes. Turning a bit northern. Republican.

  • NathanNathan Member
    Request the Scheme IDRP, this is the schemes Internal Dispute Resolution Procedure and tell them that you are going to make a complaint to the Trustees.

    My understanding is that that they have to report this to the trustees of the scheme that they will not want, i generally find that upon asking for the IDRP things get moving pretty quickly....although you will have to explain to them first what an IDRP
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